Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fight Orchard Pests with Flower Power!

A parasitoid wasp. Most of these wasps are under a quarter-
of-an-inch and none are able to sting humans.

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago and he told me that he never sprays his apple trees, but he regularly has 25% of his apples worm free. He didn't know why, but I have a pretty good idea what is preventing his apples from being damaged.

My friend lives on his old family farm in Lehi, Ut and it is full of "weeds" that are left unsprayed and usually un-mowed. These feral plants feed all comers including small parasitoidal wasps. These wasps lay eggs on a number of pests, including apple codling moths. When the eggs hatch they start eating the pests.

This is not a perfect system, but it is a sensible way to have better fruit with no added chemicals. And you don't need to live on a farm to make it work! All you need is to plant more flowers.  Not all flowers are created the same and some flowers will do more to attract predators.

Below is a list of some of the more useful plants for attracting parasitiod wasps. They are all readily available in seed or plant form at your local nursery or on line.

Scientific Name Common Name Growth Type
Achillea spp. Yarrow Perennial
Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop Perennial
Artemisia spp. Wormwood, sagebrush Perennial
Aster spp. Aster Perennial
Astragalus spp. Vetch Perennial
Baptisia spp. False indigo Perennial
Bellis perennis English daisy Perennial
Borago officinalis Borage Annual, reseeding
Caragana spp. Peashrub  Shrub
Chamaemelum nobile Roman, English chamomile Perennial
Chrysogonum virginianum Green and gold Perennial
Coreopsis spp. Tickseed Perennial
Echinacea purpurea Purple cone flower Perennial
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel Perennial
Helianthus spp. Sunflower, Sunchoke Annual, perennial
Lupinus spp. Lupine Annual, perennial
Medicago satvia Alfalfa Perennial
Robinia hispida Rosa acacia Shrub
Robinia pseudoacacia Black locust Tree
Solidago spp. Goldenrod Perennial
Trifolium spp. Sweet clover Biennial

The best places to plant these plants is as need your orchard area as possible. In the case of the annuals and perennials, planting them under and around the fruit trees is best. If that is not possible, a flower bed near the trees would be the next best thing.

It will take a few years to start attracting wasps, so be patient and take the time to work with nature. Any other flowers, especially perennials, are likely to help, so feel free to add more flowers and flowerbeds to your property. All the good critters will love you for it.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Utah Beekeepers Under Threat!

A fuzzy photo of a bee for an even fuzzier proposed law!

A new bill in Utah threatens the health of bees and the future of Utah's entire beekeeping industry. Here are the key points:
  • Removes the requirement of a moveable frame for inspection.
  • Prohibits the county inspector from inspecting unless a specific complaint is given.
  • Eliminates mandatory yearly inspections.
  • Encourages limitations on migratory beekeepers.
  • Prohibits cities from making their own beekeeping codes.
From facebooking with one of the authors, it seems that this is intended to be an anti government move that is supposed to liberate the beekeepers from the tyranny of government. As I asked questions, I found that there seems no reason for this change other than deregulation for the sake of deregulation.

I haven't myself felt oppressed by the beekeeping regulations and those I have talked to in the state may have gripes, but they can't really point to what damage is being done to them by our beekeeping code.

On the flip side there is a real fear with experienced beekeepers that our ability to combat bee health issues will be limited by the proposed deregulation. Certainly, we will have fewer tools for the next big fight with American Foul Brood, or any other pest that comes along. I personally think beekeepers will loose personal property rights as we will have a bigger risk to the bees that we have worked so hard to keep fit and healthy.

For a link to the new changes click here. This will also allow give you a link to Representative Marc Roberts, the sponsor of the bill.

For all of you Utah residents that want to let your representative and senator know what you think click here to find them.

I encourage you to be engaged whether you agree with my opinion or are opposed to it. The greatest threat to liberty has always been complacency.